A warm welcome to new writer Jonny Leighfield, who reflects on a very busy and successful summer transfer window for Swindon Town…
I must admit that at the time of writing, shortly after the summer transfer window has slammed shut, I’m feeling pretty pleased with the type of players Swindon Town have brought in and the ones we have, shall we say, disposed of. The turnaround had to be based around a ‘one in, one out’ policy in order for Town to stay within budget and you would have thought that we would be stuck with a bunch of kids or lower league rejects just to sustain our football club. But no. Full credit to the board, it was done in such a way that we managed to acquire some extremely talented individuals that we were actually receiving offers for on the 2nd of September even though they had only arrived just weeks before and played a handful of games.
So in total, it was 17 in and 16 out at Swindon HQ. The board started by using our ‘special relationship’ with Spurs to bring in a number of their youth academy products for regular first team football. These players turned out to be pretty handy. The likes of Ryan Mason and Grant Hall being some of the first names on the team sheet on a regular basis already and credit to them for that.
Being able to bring back Massimo Luongo was huge for the fans as it proved to them that even though the club had to tighten its belt in terms of transfers the board were still looking at quality as well as finances and Massimo has bags of quality. The fact that Town have now signed him permanently should hopefully show critiques of Jed and co. that they are fully behind the club; looking to sign talented players such as Massimo and therefore want us to achieve big things in the future. Also Swindon have given players such as Ryan Harley another chance in league one to prove himself was a very mature move by the board who clearly saw he possessed the quality to boss a game at this level, and he has done just that.
One transfer area that’s impressed is that we’ve brought in a reserve ‘keeper. We needed someone who has enough raw talent and ability to come in and play should we need to give Wes a rest in league or cup games. Tyrrell Belford looks a big guy who could handle himself in such a physical league or against bigger teams, so I look forward to his debut.
Another has been securing key players to sign new deals with Swindon Town. When the news broke that Wes had signed a two year deal I think most of us let out a little squeak of excitement as the best ‘keeper we have had for probably 20 years, and now committed to the cause. Also Darren Ward signing to continue his ever reliability at the back was a massive plus too. Our defence has been crying out for a rock at the back for some time now after it seemed impossible to hold down a place at centre half under previous managers.
The attacking signings have been very exciting and once all are fit and get a good run in the team we should have a strike force to be reckoned with. Tricky wingers such as Tijane and Alex Pritchard have come in who both love to run at players and have the ability to get their heads up and deliver which is great to see. We now have a couple of big hold up guys in the controversial Nile Ranger and big Danny N’Guessan who can actually win a header and bring our classy wingers in to play which is already bringing success in terms of goals and plenty of chances.
Of course there have also been a few high profile departures, most of which I deem necessary or not a huge loss to our football club. Players like Aden Flint who decided it would be perfectly acceptable to move 40 miles away to one of our biggest rivals to “further his career” (because we all know what that means) and Paul Caddis who, if rumours are to be believed, said the facilities at Swindon were poor and we would never achieve anything as a club.
But rumours and title-tattle aside a move for both of these players was best for both parties. Flint would never have been able to fit in to our ball playing centre half mould that Grant Hall looks like making his own and when you have home grown talent like Nathan Thompson at your disposal, who in my opinion is a better all-round player than Paul Caddis, it doesn’t seem like too greater loss.
However there are players that have left, that for me could still have worked under this new regime and I think were a big loss to the club. Players such as Simon Ferry and Joe Devera were the two that I would have loved to have kept. Not only for Ferry’s character but because I think they had genuine ability and like to get the ball down and play. I just hope they can further their careers at Portsmouth and make a name for themselves because I think they deserve it.
Oh yeah, and there’s that Yaser Kasim bloke isn’t there? (You didn’t think I was going to forget him did you?) Potentially the signing of the season already, Town turned down a rumoured quarter of a million pound bid for a player that we got for nothing no less than a couple of months ago. He is big, strong, powerful, has fantastic vision and ultimately the ability to run the game from central midfield. If we can keep hold of this guy, he could turn out to be our biggest asset and could take us places in the long run.
Here’s to a potentially very nervous January…